Phish Fall Tour 2019: Charleston Night 2 – Setlist, Recap & The Skinny
Phish returned to the North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, South Carolina on Saturday night for the penultimate show of Fall Tour 2019. Saturday’s setlist was filled with songs the band hadn’t played previously during the tour, as the quartet sets their sights on a repeat-less run (not counting reprises, of course). The second night of a three-night stand in Charleston also included a pair of bust outs, interesting placements and a handful of meaty jams.
The quartet went the old school route to open by kicking off the show with “Fluffhead,” one of their earliest originals. Phish famously chose “Fluffhead” as the opener for the show at Hampton Coliseum on March 6, 2009 that marked their return after a five-year breakup and Saturday’s performance was just the third time the band began a show with the Junta composition since. The nearly spot-on “Fluffhead” concluded with a particularly potent “Fluff’s Arrival” featuring rapid-fire licks a plenty from guitarist Trey Anastasio and the band was dialed in throughout the “Ocelot” that followed. Next, bassist Mike Gordon had a turn in the vocal spotlight during a cover of Hot Rize’s “Nellie Cane.”
One night after Phish performed “Your Pet Cat” from their Halloween 2014 Chilling, Thrilling Sounds Of The Haunted House musical costume, the band reached for the other pet-friendly song from the suite, “The Dogs.” The hard rocking number was the prelude for “Reba,” a beloved classic that recently turned 30 as Phish debuted the Lawn Boy track on October 1, 1989. Phish took their time building the “Reba” jam to a rolling boil with keyboardist Page McConnell starting on Fender Rhodes and picking up the intensity by moving to the piano just before Trey dropped the hammer. While the band didn’t stray outside the lines, they made the lone “Reba” of the fall count thanks to the patient approach and heady climax. It was then Page who had his first lead vocal of the night on his own “Halfway To The Moon” before passing the baton to Gordon for the breezy “Train Song.”
The Billy Breathes track was trailed by “Guyute,” the third complex and challenging Trey Anastasio composition of the set. Anastasio had a tougher time with “Guyute” than he did with “Fluffhead” and “Reba” yet regained his composure in time for the song’s powerful conclusion. Drummer Jon Fishman, who added vocal flourishes to the “Bundle Full Of Joy” segment of “Fluffhead” earlier in the night, cracked Trey up with his singing of the “I’m bouncing like a newborn elf” verse. Phish capped the frame with the pretty ballad “Strange Design” and their first cover of David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” since October 26, 2018.
Phish began the second set with a bust out as they dusted off “The Connection” from Undermind for the first time since July 29, 2015 – a span of 171 shows. The first ever second set “The Connection” gave way to “Mr. Completely,” continuing a trend of the quartet opening the second set with a short song followed by a jam vehicle. Phish quickly broke through the tune’s structure into a blissful jam space they expertly explored before Gordon fronted a move back into dark terrain for a second distinct segment of standout improvisation highlighted by McConnell’s Moog squiggles and Anastasio’s angular leads. Trey eventually led a move to the end of the song to close out Saturday’s 15-minute “Mr. Completely.” More Type II magic was in store as “Crosseyed & Painless” filled the three-slot. Phish rocked out the typical “Crosseyed” chord sequence and then various members dropped in and out of the mix during an ethereal ambient excursion that was followed by a jam on the holiday classic “The Little Drummer Boy” featuring multiple key changes.
“Dirt” came next to complete the whistling trifecta that also included “Reba” and “Guyute.” Anastasio fit teases of “The Little Drummer Boy” into his “Dirt” whistling to the delight of the capacity crowd. Phish didn’t wait long to get back to jamming as “Cool Amber & Mercury” birthed a groovy bit of improv that was hitting its stride when the four-piece kicked into “Split Open & Melt.” Thankfully, the band picked up in a similar space to where they off just a few minutes later. The evil “Split” featured Fish on Marimba Lumina. Phish dove into deep space with no one member taking the lead, as all four contributed to a dark and eerie jam that included more “The Little Drummer Boy” teases from Trey. Just when Fish picked up the beat and it seemed Phish was headed for the “Split” peak, they turned back to “Crosseyed & Painless” for a reprise of the Talking Heads cover. It was only then that the quartet wrapped up “Split Open & Melt.”
Trey Anastasio led his mates through the Ghosts Of The Forest ballad “A Life Beyond The Dream” next and then Phish ended the set with a typically raucous “Wilson” and the Page McConnell showcase “The Squirming Coil.” The band immediately headed for Page’s side of the stage when they came back for the encore and assembled for the a capella number “Grind.” Page then emerged with his Keytar, which was originally owned by James Brown, in hand as the rest of the band returned to their normal instruments to conclude the show with “Frankenstein,” an Edgar Winter Group cover last played in 2017 during the Baker’s Dozen residency at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The song was the 162nd different one played by Phish since they started the run eight nights ago in Providence.
Phish concludes fall tour on Sunday back in Charleston. A webcast is available via LivePhish.com.
North Charleston Coliseum [See upcoming shows]
9 shows — 11/18/1995, 10/27/1996, 10/15/2010, 10/16/2010, 10/17/2010, 10/14/2016, 10/15/2016, 10/16/2016, 12/06/2019
10 songs / 8:03 pm to 9:18 pm (75 minutes)
11 songs / 9:54 pm to 11:29 pm (95 minutes)
21 songs / 17 originals / 4 covers
25.87 [Gap chart]
The Connection -- 171 Shows (LTP - 07/29/2015)
Fluffhead -- 16:34
Grind -- 2:35
Junta - 1, Lawn Boy - 3, Billy Breathes - 2, The Story of the Ghost - 2, Undermind - 2, Joy - 1, Fuego - 1, Misc. - 5, Covers - 4
53° and Clear at showtime